Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, Tuesday 7 August

Mick T, Kev and I set 10 nets on a mild and relatively calm morning and we began catching birds before we'd finished setting up. We continued to catch and ring without a break until 10:00h when suddenly the sun kicked in and the temperature soared, after which we had no more than a trickle.

We finished on 109 captures, including 8 retraps, breaking down as follows (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 2/1, Blackcap 28/1, Garden Warbler 11/2, Whitethroat 7/0, Goldcrest 3/0, Chiffchaff 5/2, Willow Warbler 9/0, Reed Warbler 14/0, Sedge Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 6/0, Great Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 3/1, Greenfinch 2/0.

The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2013. The Long-tailed Tits caught today are the first we have had since June - they have been very scarce this summer and we wondered if the long, cold winter had affected them. We caught very few adult warblers and a good proportion of the juveniles were building up their fat reserves nicely, gorging on the abundant (and particularly delicious) blackberries.

A single Yellow Wagtail, a few hirundines and the occasional Swift were overhead and a young Great Spotted Woodpecker tried its luck on one of our bamboo poles. Speckled Woods and a few whites were the only butterflies and Southern Hawker was the most numerous dragonfly by some margin.


Willow Warbler - one of the few adult birds we trapped, typically with much less yellow on the underparts than most young birds (PML)

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Tuesday 7 August

Duncan and I set the usual 8 nets at this site and hoped the sun would not be too bright. Clouds did help for a while but once the sun came out fully the catch dried up. We ended with a total catch of 65 including 1 retrap, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Wren 2/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 2/0, Blackcap 27/1, Garden Warbler 6/0, Whitethroat 6/0, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Chiffchaff 8/0, Willow Warbler 3/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Chaffinch 1/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds. Plenty of birds about again and only the breeze stopped us having a bigger catch. The only retrap was a recently ringed bird.


Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, Sunday 5 August

Sue, Duncan, Mick T and I made another trip to this site setting 8 nets in good conditions. Another brisk start before the sun got too hot and the birds became scarcer. Lots of warblers again and we ended with a total catch of 119 including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Wren 1/0, Dunnock 0/3, Robin 2/1, Blackcap 20/2, Garden Warbler 19/0, Whitethroat 9/1, Goldcrest 1/0, Chiffchaff 5/0, Willow Warbler 10/0, Reed Warbler 26/4, Sedge Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 6/0, Great Tit 1/0, Greenfinch 2/0, Bullfinch 3/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds. Plenty of birds about again and only the breeze stopped us having a bigger catch. The retraps of our birds were all recently ringed but we did catch a Reed Warbler wearing a Portuguese ring.


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Recent recoveries

Here's the latest batch of recoveries. This is the first round-up since February, as there hasn't really been a glut since then!

Most interesting recovery probably goes to the Long-eared Owl which was found dead on the roads near Long Bennington in March this year. It had been ringed as a chick back in 2005 at Hawton. This is particularly of interest as it is one of only a very few LEO ringed by the group.

An Attenborough Grey Heron has been re-sighted on the reserve in April this year, having been ringed there at the nest in 2015.

A Mute Swan, also noted at Attenborough in May, had been colour-ringed by Sorby Breck RG in August 2010 at Markeaton, near Derby.

A Tawny Owl, ringed at the nest as a chick at Hockerwood in 2017 was found dead in March this year in Northamptonshire, a decent movement for this species. It had been predated, reportedly by a Buzzard.

A Kestrel, ringed in Lambley as a chick in 2011 was found after it had been killed flying into a window in Gedling in April this year.

The Attenborough Sand Martin colony continues to be a source of recoveries, with 2 birds controlled on site on 12 June. They had both been ringed as youngsters at colonies in Rutland in 2017. Another bird ringed at the reserve as a chick in May 2017 was recovered on its return migration a couple of months later in Niovilles, near Zaragoza, Spain.

A Blue Tit (not a recoveries round-up regular!) controlled at Devon Farm in January, had originally been ringed at Hoby in September 2017. A female Chaffinch ringed at Devon Farm in 2016 was found dead in Burton Joyce in March.

The Bestwood to Edwinstowe Redpoll superhighway features again; another bird ringed at Mick's site in 2016 being controlled in Edwinstowe in February. (The ringer in Edwinstowe has recovered quite a few Bestwood birds to date!)

A Dunnock ringed at Ramsdale Gold Club in October last year was controlled by Birklands RG at nearby Bestwood Country Park in February. Birklands also controlled a SNRG-ringed Goldfinch at the same site in January. This bird had been ringed in Hucknall in 2012. Another Dunnock, ringed at Brack on October 2017, was found dead up the road by Simon in July, having been taken by a cat.

Also at Bestwood, a Tree sparrow controlled on site in July had come from the colony at Beckingham, ringed as a chick in 2017.

A Blackbird, ringed in West Bridgford in June 2017, met its fate in a nearby water butt in May.

A Bullfinch, ringed at Ramsdale in September 2017 was found dead in May in Ravenshead.


Monday, 30 July 2018

Late June & July ringing - a catch-up!

We have been doing plenty of ringing over the last few weeks but the amount of time spent in the field and so much more time entering this and other data into DemOn led to me getting a little behind with things. So here is the catch up:

Attenborough 20/06/18 – A visit to the tern platforms on Main Pond and Coneries along with the Cormorant colony by Pete S, Mick T, Mick P and me. It was quite a blustery day but we successfully ringed a few gulls and found plenty of terns nesting on the new platform. There were some Cormorant chicks at the right age to ring but they were flanked by nests containing very large chicks so we decided not to land and attempt to ring them.

Attenborough 28/06/18 – A mist netting session at the Sand Martin colony by Pete S, Phil and I resulted in another good catch in good conditions, the oldest retrap was a bird from 2016.

Attenborough CES Visit 6, 01/07/18 – A very hot day saw Tom, Gary and me complete the CES ringing for the year. Another poor catch in what has turned out to be a poor CES season altogether. The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2015.

Holme Pierrepont Grange 04/07/18 – Another hot day and Mick T and I set a few nets after clearing the rides, the vegetation had quickly filled some of them since our last visit. A busy morning with plenty of Blackcaps, the oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler from 2016.

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre 11/07/2018 – The hot weather continues and Mick T and I set the usual line of nets and the early morning cloud cover helps us to a reasonable catch but when the sun came out the catching dried up. Nice to get a few Linnets but generally low numbers of warblers for this site. The oldest retrap was a Blackcap from 2017.

Attenborough 12/07/18 – Another mist netting session at the Sand Martin colony by Pete S, Phil, Mick T and I was followed by a trip out in the boat to the tern platforms. A good catch of Sand Martins again with plenty of unringed juveniles that have obviously been hatched at another colony. The oldest retrap was a returning pullus from 2016. Unfortunately the terns on Church Pond and Coneries appeared to have been predated, possibly by Mink. The platforms on Main Pond were OK though and more gulls were ringed along with the first terns of the year. There were plenty of tern eggs still to hatch so another visit will be made in the coming weeks.

Holme Pierrepont Blotts 15/07/18 – The first session of the year at this end of Holme Pierrepont was made by Alex, Mick T, Gary and me. A bit of ride clearance was required along with some net re-siting meant we only got 8 nets up but we had a brisk start before the sun got too hot and we took down a bit earlier. Plenty of warblers as usual for this site and nice to get a Grasshopper Warbler. The oldest retrap was a Wren from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont Grange 19/07/18 – Duncan, Mick T and I set all the usual nets on a perfect morning for ringing. Warblers were there in good numbers and made up nearly 75% of the catch. Great to get 5 Cetti's and 40 Reed Warblers. The oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont Blotts 22/07/18 – Another good morning for ringing and Sue, Alex, Mick T, Gary and I managed to get a couple more nets up than last time but were immediately inundated with birds including plenty of warblers. Nice catch of Garden Warblers and great to get a 1J Grasshopper Warbler proving they did breed on the site this year. The oldest retraps were a Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Great Spotted Woodpecker all from the 23/07/16. Interestingly the warblers were both ringed and retrapped as moulting adults with moult scores only 1 and 2 points different this year to 2016 - on the same weekend. So no effect of the late spring showing there!

Holme Pierrepont Grange 25/07/18 – Hot, hot, hot, but Duncan, Mick T and I had another session with the full compliment of nets, the heat forcing another slightly early finish. Good job there were plenty of warblers again otherwise we would have had a quiet day with resident birds making up less than 20% of the catch. The oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont Blotts 30/07/18 – After we cancelled the weekend ringing because of the wind and rain, Mick T and I risked it this morning. The forecast the night before was for a good breeze quickly increasing with 50% chance of rain early on – well they got the rain right but not the breeze, it was flat calm. We set just two lines of nets with an eye on the forecast rain and set the MP3s playing. The rain started as we set out to do the first round and was steady enough to make us furl the nets, they stayed furled for over 1-1/2 hours until it stopped. Nice catch of Garden Warblers again and still plenty of Reed Warblers. The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2016. Nice view of a Hobby trying to catch a Swift over the nets, but the Swift managed to evade capture.

Totals are in the table below.


Thursday, 12 July 2018


I have been monitoring a Sparrowhawk nest in Hucknall for the last couple of weeks and have taken a few photos to record their development.

Mick P
 27 June
 29 June
 6 July
10 July
 10 July

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 24 June

Sue, Alex, Gary and I took advantage of the only weekend until August at Holme Pierrepont when there were no events planned. The site had not been disturbed by campers or anyone else by the looks of it and the rides needed a lot of attention before we could put the nets up. Full sun from the start but no wind and at last we found some birds.....and mosquitoes.

The birds were welcome but I can only ever remember one other year at Holme Pierrepont in the last forty when the mosquitoes were as bad, probably worse than they are at Attenborough. Despite the hot sun we had a good catch of 64 including 9 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 3/1, Robin 1/0, Dunnock 1/1, Reed Warbler 13/5, Chiffchaff 4/0, Blackcap 15/1, Garden Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Great Tit 4/0, Long-tailed Tit 7/0, Wren 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 0/1. The oldest retraps were two Reed Warblers from 2012.


Attenborough CES, Visit 5 - Tuesday 19 June

The fifth CES visit of the season was carried out on Tuesday by Mick T and I. The weather was good, a bright morning with intermittent cloud cover and only a light breeze. We did have a delayed start after finding 3 willows each over 40 foot high had come down right across the net ride smashing a pole in the process. We had the sort of catch that has become the norm this year with a total of 24 including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 3/2, Dunnock 2/0, Chiffchaff 1/0, Blackcap 1/1, Great Tit 5/3, Wren 3/1, Reed Bunting 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Great Tit from 2014. Very few warblers and very few juveniles again.


Wales, Sunday 17 June

Tom, Mick P and I made what could possibly be the last trip to the boxes in Wales, 25 years after we first started the project there. It was a mostly cloudy and breezy day but at least it did not rain.
We could not get any local information about the state of the birds so I took a flyer based on information on Facebook. Unfortunately we were probably about 5 days too late. We ringed 48 birds, 43 Pied Flycatcher and 5 Redstart – all pulli except for 3 adult Pied Flycatcher. We also had 1 retrap Pied Flycatcher, an adult from last year.

We recorded 18 nests that appeared to have fledged, if we had gone earlier in the week we would probably have got well over 100 birds ringed.

I've looked at occupancy rates where Pied Flycatchers or Redstarts have got to at least the egg stage.
In the first year (1993) we had an occupancy rate of 70.3%. This rate has dropped generally over the years dropping below 50% for the first time in 2008. This year was the lowest rate ever at just 26.02%.

The pictures of birds were all taken using a NatureWatch camera costing £25, as shown recently on Spring Watch. The last couple of photos show the camera in position.


 Pied Flycatchers photographed remotely at a box (above) and pictures showing how the camera is set (below).

Saturday, 16 June 2018

SNRG in Norway

Many of you know the origins of the ringing group, but for those that do not please refer to the FAQ pages. Those of us whose group membership goes back to 1971 have kept in touch with the group's founder Humphrey Dobinson over the years by letters and emails. However, the last time anyone from the group visited him was when Gary and I dropped in to see him at his house in Swindon in the early 1980s, on our way to Slimbridge to make some swan darvics. Since then Humphrey and his wife Oddrun retired and went to live in Oddrun’s native Norway. Their two children Colin and Kristin had also moved there to work.

I bumped into ex-member Nigel Bosworth just before last Christmas and he suggested we should pay a visit with any other original members that we could contact and were able to make the trip. After consulting with Colin Dobinson we secretly set up a visit to see Oddrun and Humphrey and flew out on Friday 18 May. Four of us made the trip, Gary, Mick T, Nigel and myself.

In 1966 on 7 September, Humphrey took delivery of a new Bedford mini-bus (the Beddy), Humphrey would take us all over the country in this bird-watching and ringing. He spent countless out of school hours, supported all the way by Oddrun, passing on his ornithological knowledge to van-loads of eager pupils. If we called in at his house in Keyworth to do some garden ringing, Oddrun would often supply waffles for us to eat. Sadly such dedication in this way would not be possible to repeat these days as current laws would not allow it. Pupils now miss out as there are no doubt still teachers today that would be prepared to dedicate so much time in this way if they could. The Beddy became a symbol of the Fairham Ornithological Society and the ringing group, much of the ringing we did in those early days would not have been possible without it. It was sad to see the Beddy head south to Swindon with Humphrey and Oddrun in the early 1970s when Humphrey took up a new position at a school there. Humphrey started an ornithological society at his new school and trained some pupils to become ringers but deliberately kept it on a smaller scale than he did at Fairham School.

As time took its toll on the Beddy it was left in a garage in Swindon and stayed there rusting and the interior being damaged by mice for a long time. But a few years ago Colin had it restored to its former glory and now it too has a new home in Norway. According to Colin it cost a ridiculous amount of money to restore but over the years it had played such an important part in the Dobinson family lives that he just had to do it. A magnificent job he has done as well, we saw photos of the ‘before’ condition and have witnessed the ‘after’. Certain alterations had to be made to make it legal for use on 21st century Norwegian roads, such as removing some of the bench seats to allow the installation of a row of ‘proper’ seats with belts behind the front seats and new Norwegian number plates. (Incidentally the new plate is 66.09.07, not just a random number - see the start of paragraph 3!) As we expected Colin had also saved the old UK plates JNN 902D. The Beddy took us all on a trip down memory lane, literally as we went out for a spin. Not least was the memory of how uncomfortable those bench seats were, it made us wonder how we managed to travel so far on them all those years ago. As one of only 3 of its kind in Norway we saw heads turn as we passed, I commented that we were probably turning more heads with the Beddy than we would if we were passing in a shiny new Ferrari! We just felt there was one thing missing but that was soon rectified as Colin accepted a SNRG car sticker which is now displayed in one the rear door windows.

It was a fantastic trip enabling us to catch up with Oddrun and Humphrey and to see Colin and Kristin who were only children the last time we met. It was great to meet Colin's wife, Trude, and their children Hannah and Fredrik at their house for the great BBQ . We were made so very welcome by them all and would like to thank them for their wonderful hospitality. We must also thank them for arranging the fantastic weather, in the four days we were there we hardly saw a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the 20s every day.


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Attenborough Sand Martins, Tuesday 12 June

A later start to mist-netting the Sand Martins at Attenborough after a delayed start to egg laying, but this morning Phil, Mick T and I had a good first session. Few birds are nesting in Face A again but Face B and C had plenty of birds and we caught 52 including 19 retraps and 2 controls. The oldest retrap was a pullus from 2016. We also caught 7 ringed juvs that had fledged from this colony and 2 unringed juvs obviously fledged from a different colony.


Treecreeper nest

I was contacted recently by ex-member Nigel Bosworth about a Treecreeper nest he had found in an unusual location on Barton Island in the River Trent at Attenborough. The nest was positioned between a temporary wall and a support post, part of the toilet block for the Sea Scouts who use the island as a camp. Normally the ringing of Treecreeper pulli is restricted due to possible nest damage being caused when trying to remove the chicks. I wondered about the possibility of ringing these chicks as access was easy. Having checked the manual and not finding the answer I consulted HQ, after a while having had no feedback against ringing them I went out in a boat with Nigel and ringed the 6 pulli - the first pulli Treecreepers the group have ever ringed. Below is some video footage of the nest taken by Nigel, to whom we owe our thanks!


Attenborough CES, Visit 4 - Sunday 10 June

The fourth CES visit of the season was carried out on Sunday by Sue, Mick T, Gary and me. The weather was perfect, a bright start but soon after cloud covered the sun and there was not a breath of wind. In a normal year with conditions like this we should have been on for a good catch. We did get the best catch for this years CES season but it only beat visit 2 by a single bird.

Total catch was 26 including 7 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 3/2, Dunnock 0/2, Chiffchaff 1/0, Blackcap 1/1, Garden Warbler 1/0, Blue Tit 2/0, Great Tit 5/1, Wren 1/0, Bullfinch 4/1.

The oldest retrap was a Robin from 2016. So closing in on the middle of June and only 3 of today's catch were juveniles: 2 Robins and a Great Tit. The low numbers continue here and around the country. Of note this week was a Wren (the first of the year!) and a Garden Warbler, the first on a CES visit since 2015.

As the photos show there were plenty of invertebrates about to make up for the lack of birds, we also had a brown hawker in the net (successfully extracted) and a hornet which bit through a net strand and extracted itself (thankfully!).


photos by S. Lakeman

Monday, 11 June 2018


I ringed two Buzzard chicks on 7 June 2018 near Bestwood. You can see from the remains that they eat rats too!

Mick P